Why allowing employees to work from home forever is wrong
Covid-19 has forced organizations around the world to rethink the workplace. Remote working quickly became synonymous with greater flexibility and accelerated digital transformation strategies, allowing teams to collaborate through global lockdowns.
Twitter and other companies have promised that employees can work from home “forever”.
But is a remote workplace only a mistake?
Our teams work together all over the world and as a global company we will naturally make remote and hybrid working easier in the future. But we also saw that collaboration and trust are boosted by shared daily experiences, face-to-face communication and opportunities for impromptu co-creation. For this reason, we will prioritize a desktop-centric approach as soon as it is safe to do so for our global teams.
The workplace has fundamentally changed. And there’s no denying that organizations need to be flexible in the months and years to come to thrive in a distributed world.
However, when it’s safe to do so, could returning to the office be the best decision your team makes? At Asana – we believe it does.
Remote work fuels context change and burnout
Despite the Herculean efforts of many companies to deploy the technology to help their teams navigate the lockdown, productivity is declining.
Knowledge workers spend most of their day working on the job – tasks like finding information, checking for updates, and attending unnecessary meetings. This waste of time is exacerbated by excessive context switching. Workers average 10 apps and switch between them 25 times a day just to do their job, creating more chaos than clarity.
In an office, what would be an informal five-minute conversation to clear something up is forced to become a 30-minute scheduled video call – with more time wasted switching between apps to schedule the meeting first. location.
Not only is virtual meeting fatigue a real phenomenon, office workers have to log overtime to compensate, leading to worrying levels of burnout: 75% of knowledge workers in the UK have experienced a burnout in 2020.
Now that organizations have the opportunity to open their offices and have the time to plan for a successful return, it is essential that business leaders focus on creating a sustainable work environment for their employees. Office spaces can be redesigned to foster opportunities for ad hoc connection and co-creation through inclusive common spaces.
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Virtual offices lack true human connection
Coming back to the office isn’t just about reducing burnout or working on the job. It is about allowing greater creativity and innovation.
The physical sharing of a space creates opportunities for impromptu discovery and co-creation, building collaboration and trust.
There is nothing quite like bouncing ideas off someone in front of you when putting together a pitch or trying to rethink company strategy. There is currently no technological substitute for this spark of in-person connection.
“When you’re face to face, it’s easier to spot if someone is approaching burnout and easier for them to admit.”
The in-person connection provided by an office is also crucial in protecting your team’s sanity. When you’re face to face, it’s easier to spot if someone is approaching burnout and easier for them to admit. With your team right in front of you, you can better identify if a business process is not working or is putting undue pressure on someone, rather than issues disguised behind a screen.
It helps you stop burnout and take the necessary structural measures to keep it from snowballing.
Learn from foreclosure to thrive in a distributed world
That’s not to say we should ignore the learnings of the past 14 months.
The response to Covid-19 has shown the benefits that remote and flexible working can bring, whether it’s supporting parents and caregivers or making work more accessible to employees with disabilities.
As we bring our teams together at Asana, we will incorporate additional flexibility that adds hybrid elements to our office-centric culture, such as “working from home on Wednesdays”. With this change, our employees can synchronize in-person collaboration with the time it takes to focus and flow individually, at home or in the office, which enhances the value we derive from both.
The past year has also shown that organizations are resilient and that teams have found new ways to keep going, and even thrive, through tough times.
Just as there was no plan for remote working, neither is there one for returning to the office. These remote working lessons should help inform strategies and allow teams to acclimate to a post-pandemic world.
Whether companies choose to return to the office – as we are at Asana – to work remotely or take a hybrid approach, the new workplace must ensure that the health and well-being of employees is at the heart of that decision. .
Simon O’Kane is Asana’s EMEA manager.